Accord reached on global warming
COMMENT: After all that hoopla ... this? It wasn't worth the greenhouse gases it took to get it.
The deal: Rich countries hammer out a general agreement to reduce emissions
An international deal on global warming was reached late Friday, a last-minute breakthrough that was described as only a first step and insufficient to fight climate change.
"We have much farther to go," U.S. President Barack Obama said, adding that more trust would have to be built between rich and poor nations to reach a legally binding pact.
The talks went into overtime Friday, bolstered by hopeful discussions between the U.S. and China, but muddled by numerous confusing drafts of a new United Nations agreement swirling through the conference centre.
Obama reportedly reached a "meaningful agreement" with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and South Africa's President Jacob Zuma after a day of deep divisions between leaders of rich and developing nations.
A key compromise was an allowance for poor or developing countries that don't take international financing to avoid international monitoring of their emissions. The move was a pointed concession to China, which has fought such strict controls.
The so-called "Copenhagen Accord" lays out a general agreement for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Under its guidance, countries would strive to keep temperature change below two degrees Celsius. Rich countries would reduce their emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 -- brought to fruition with various country commitments to be written into an annex at some future date.
The document said "nationally appropriate mitigation measures" will be laid out for developing countries.
In a concession to developing nations and small island states most vulnerable to climate change, it said a rise in world temperatures should be limited to two degrees Celsius, with a review in 2016 that would also consider a tougher limit of 1.5 Celsius.
"The preponderance of scientific evidence and opinion is that climate change is a very real challenge. The science continues to evolve -- we've had some controversy recently because the science is not uniform, not every scientist agrees on every detail, but we are guided by the preponderance of the evidence and that is absolutely clear," Prime Minister Stephen Harper, one of 120 world leaders at the climate summit, said Friday night.
"I know there will be people running out there saying targets are not hard enough but let me assure you what we and others are committed to do over the next decade will have real impacts and real challenges on players in the Canadian economy."
Harper also spoke of the oilsands-- often and loudly targeted by environmental activists on the streets of Copenhagen throughout the summit.
"The oilsands are I think, about four per cent of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions. They are a rapidly growing percentage," said Harper.
The proceedings were a day behind schedule and rumours swirled of talks going well into the weekend. Earlier in the day, Obama chastised world leaders for allowing squabbling to leave the United Nations pact in limbo so late in the process.
"I have to be honest, as the world watches us today, our ability to take collective action is in doubt right now," the U.S. president said.